on tuesday, st. matthew-in-the-city, a progressive christian anglican church, erected a controversial christmas billboard portraying mary, the mother of jesus, contemplating on the result of the home pregnancy test. the billboard was unveiled in auckland, new zealand. so what does the church wants? in a statement posted on their website, their ‘intention’ is to ‘avoid the sentimental, trite and expected to spark thought and conversation in the community.’
the illustration bears no caption. so viewers are invited to ‘wonder’ what their caption could be.
not the first christmas billboard stunt
in 2009, the church unveiled a ‘completely irresponsible and unnecessary’ billboard depicting mary and joseph in bed with a caption “poor joseph. god was a hard act to follow”.
in a statement, st. matthew’s vicar glynn cardy said that the church has its purpose in erecting the billboard. and that is to ‘provoke people to think about meaning.’ meaning of what? of christmas? of faith? of freedom?
the church’s 2011 christmas billboard isn’t provocative as the one in 2009. yet i have remarks. i think the illustration is misleading and the fact, at least the one the bible tells us, is distorted. i’m a roman catholic by baptism but had not practice the tradition in few years now. i have disagreements and more questions. but i’m not an atheist. religion can make you a better person, i hope so. but it can also corrupt you. the very same thing that make your virtuous can also be the vehicle of perversion. my rule of thumb is to always respect other people’s religion.
lost in translation
if we want to make people aware of our stand in religion and faith, is there a need to post provocative illustrations? how far can we tolerate artist rendition on portraying religious figures? and how do we interpret archaic religious traditions in the 21st century? i saw photos of jesus in soccer or holding a ps3 controller. should we modernized our medieval saints, mary, and jesus so we draw connection?